All manner of scifi/fantasy/nerdness: Roleplaying, comic books, .... okay, so mainly just RPGs & comic books. And Dr. Who. And Firefly. And comic books. And role-playing games. And Community. And Buffy the Vampire Slayer. And comic books. And RPGs. And Avengers. And RPGS. And whatever else amuses me today...
So this isn’t The One True Way to GM, or The Definitive Guide to Being a Gamemaster, or GM Like This or Everyone Will Hate You.
This is just a collection of thoughts and opinions that I’ve gathered after several years of running roleplaying games. I just finished one long-running campaign and I’m about to startup another so I thought I would write up my own personal process for campaign preparation.
You’re welcome to do it differently. You probably should. But if you’re interested in trying your hand at running a game and feel overwhelmed, or you don’t know where to start and feel like you’ve bitten off more than you can chew, here is the process I go through when planning my campaign in 6 “easy” steps. Your mileage WILL vary.
That line about “being a GM should be less about a MadLib and more about communal storytelling” sounds really condescending. I’m really sorry and I’m not trying to sound like an elitist jerk. I’ve got no problems with folks who use campaign modules and I’ve done that several times. It definitely helps and sometimes you need help. And a campaign doesn’t always have to be nonlinear. Sometimes it’s nice to play straightforward hack-and-slash, and sometimes you have a particular story you want to tell and allow the players just enough freedom to interact with only that story.
Completely open-ended story-telling is HARD in a tabletop system and not for everyone. Honestly, a lot of the time I feel like it’s not for me. But I WANT to do the hard thing and win at it. That’s the challenge for me as a GM. While my players get satisfaction from saving planets and rescuing princesses, I get my satisfaction from running an open world that they enjoy. And just like sometimes they are bashing their heads against difficult puzzles and challenges, I’m bashing my head about how to take into account that thing they did that I wasn’t expecting, the choices they made that completely derailed where I thought the plot was going, or finding obstacles that give every player/character the opportunity to shine.
The campaign might be about slaying the dragon for them, but the campaign IS the dragon for me.